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Matassini Law Firm > Blog > Criminal Defense > Florida Teachers Cheat on Certification Tests, According to New Indictment

Florida Teachers Cheat on Certification Tests, According to New Indictment

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Two Florida teachers are under federal indictment for providing tests and answers to Florida teachers seeking certification. If the irony of a teacher passing their certification by cheating doesn’t hit you over the head, that’s probably because we’ve surpassed the capacity to be shocked by anything anymore. Nonetheless, Kathleen and Jeremy Jasper have been charged by federal prosecutors in a scheme to help Florida educators cheat.

The couple has been charged with:

  • Racketeering conspiracy,
  • 108 counts of wire fraud,
  • Conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets,
  • And three counts of theft of trade secrets.

Prosecutors say that the couple would register to take the test, memorize the questions and answers, and then share those results with teachers who were about to take the test. The federal prosecutor told the press that such acts undermine the public’s confidence in state certification programs.

Elements of Wire Fraud 

What is wire fraud? Well, it’s not as complicated as it might sound. Any time you make a false statement on an official government document, you are “uttering forged documents” or committing fraud. The fact that it’s “wire” fraud only specifies how the fraud occurred. If you lie to the government during an official interview, that too is fraud. Since the defendants certified that they would not provide the answers or questions to others with the intention of later disseminating that information, they have been charged with 108 counts of wire fraud.

In this case, the government forces every test-taker to certify that they will not provide test answers and questions to others. If they promise in writing not to do something and then turn around and do it, they have uttered a forged document. Since the process is completed electronically, that’s wire fraud.

Penalties for Wire Fraud 

The maximum penalty for one count of wire fraud is 20 years. However, federal sentencing guidelines generally require prison stays of 33 months. This depends on both the amount of money stolen and the severity of the fraud. Since wire fraud is charged every time a defendant utters a forged document, each crime can be charged individually.

Defenses to Wire Fraud 

The best defense to wire fraud involves the assertion that there was “no intent to defraud”. In other words, the defendant believed that the statements were true at the time of utterance. That defense will be off the table here since the couple committed the same crime 108 times.

Talk to a Federal Charges Defense Attorney in Tampa 

Facing federal charges is no small event. Federal mandatory minimums and other strictures make the stakes much higher. Those facing federal charges need a Tampa criminal attorney to fight the charges. Matassini Law Firm can help.

Resource:

tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2020/12/11/florida-teacher-certification-scheme-part-of-federal-investigation/

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